Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



Marshall L. Fisher, Edwin Keh


Although global clothing production occurs predominantly in China and Southeast Asia, non-conventional locations such as Africa, the Caribbean, and even the US have recently garnered the attention of several of the world’s largest apparel brands and manufacturers. This study synthesizes findings from meetings conducted with CEOs of three large apparel manufacturers at their headquarters in Hong Kong. Through primary site visits and interviews, common drivers of and deterrents for expanding production to Sub-Saharan Africa were identified with a focus on Ethiopia. Executives viewed this prospect with differing levels of enthusiasm (which can be explained, at least in part, by the choice-supportive bias of those individuals). While clear benefits of expansion emerged (including lower production costs, auspicious government policy, and support from brands), there were also non-trivial barriers. Although lack of education and lack of experience for workers represent surmountable barriers, the underdeveloped supply chain is a steeper barrier and one that warrants greater effort and consideration to overcome.


manufacturing, apparel, textiles, China, Ethiopia, supply chain



Date Posted: 01 November 2017


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